By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
In the summer prior to his junior year, Lucas Reynolds decided he didn’t want to play soccer anymore.
With a new coach set to take over the program at Madison Southern, he thought maybe it was time to focus on another sport.
But, it didn’t take Reynolds long to re-think that decision.
“I just thought I’d stick with baseball,” Rey-nolds said. “But, I’ve been playing soccer since I was four years old, so I felt like I had two stick it out and I’m glad that I did.”
On Thursday, Reynolds signed a national letter of intent to play soccer at the University of the Cumberlands.
The senior was a three-year starter for Southern and was a team captain this past season. He scored 14 goals in 2012 and was an emotional leader for a team that posted a 14-6 record and advanced to the 11th Region Tournament.
“He’s a competitor,” Southern coach James Ray said of Reynolds. “He loves to compete. He’s very hard-nosed. He just has that will to keep driving. I don’t think I have ever been around a kid who hates to lose that much. He really does take it seriously.”
As a senior, Reynolds was named to the All-Berea Cup Team, was also an all-district selection and was selected as Southern’s most valuable player by the coaching staff and teammates.
Reynolds was drawing some interest from other schools, but always had a particular interest in the University of the Cumberlands. He played on a club team with Patriots’ coach Brenton Benware, who was at Thursday’s ceremony, for several seasons.
“This is a special signing for me,” Benware said. “I’ve gotten to know Lucas the past couple of years. You always want to add guys to your team who are good students, but also good people. I’ve just really enjoyed getting to know Lucas and his family.”
Reynolds played mostly center-back during the past three seasons as Southern, but the senior was an offensive threat as well.
“He was really good on set pieces and corner kicks,” Ray said.
That ability to find the net and also set up his teammates may lead to opportunities for Reynolds to play different positions at the next level.
And that’s something he’s already talked about with Benware.
“He’s looking at me for center-mid as an offensive-minded player,” Reynolds said.
In Reynolds’ three seasons as starter, the Eagles had a record of 41-17 — and the senior was a big reason for the team’s success.
Southern had winning streak of seven and six games this season and fell to Model in the district championship game, then suffered a loss to Dunbar in the 11th Region Tournament.
“The leadership he gave us — the drive and the determination — really is what led us to have the year we had this year,” Ray said.